Round 2 of Kejriwal vs Delhi LG; AAP calls it coup by BJP

Rajat Kain

File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

Arvind Kejriwal government in the National Capital Territory of Delhi is not getting along with the Constitutional head of the state. This time the Delhi CM and chieftain of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party has raised series of objections over the appointment of acting Chief Secretary by the office of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. Shakuntala Gamlin has been temporarily posted at the position of Chief Secretary of Delhi as the incumbent officer KK Sharma is on short leave of absence for personal reasons.

There are reports that the Delhi government has instructed Ms. Gamlin not to take charge. However, she has taken the charge and has already begun to dispose with the functions of her post.

As the 1984-batch IAS officer took additional and temporary charge as Chief Secretary of Delhi, the AAP-led Delhi government escalated charges against the BJP, the party ruling at the Centre. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia took the lead and said, “the BJP through LG of Delhi has attempted a coup against the democratically elected government of Delhi with highest ever mandate in the history of the state”.

“This is for the first that LG is issuing direct instruction to officers, bypassing the chief ministers and council of ministers,” Sisodia said stoking the row further.

Earlier on Friday, Kejriwal-led Delhi government had called the decision taken by the LG to appoint Gamlin as “unconstitutional” and bypassing an elected government of the state. On the other hand LG Jung has defended his decision to appoint the senior most officer as the position of top bureaucrat in the administration cannot remain vacant, even temporarily.

In a press release issued on Friday, the Delhi government had said, “The Lt Governor does not have the extraordinary powers under the Constitution to bypass the elected Government and issue instructions directly to the Secretaries, whatever be the provocation”.

The AAP-run government have also alleged Gamlin’s “proximity” with the electricity distribution firms in Delhi.

“She was perceived to be extremely close to electricity companies in Delhi and was lobbying for their interests within the Government. However, the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor, in a completely unconstitutional manner appointed Shakuntala Gamlin, to this position,” the release read in what appears to be another round of confrontation between the state government and its constitutional head.

On the other hand, LG’s decision came soon after the officer alleged of pressure tactics from the CM Kejriwal’s office asking Ms. Gamlin to not accept the additional charge of the Chief Secretary. Defending his decision LG Jung told “Under Article 239 AA of the Constitution, the Lt. Governor is the representative of state authority in Delhi. The L-G had approved Gamlin’s name as against the name proposed by the Hon’ble chief minister considering she was senior and has a proven track record.”

According to the office of Delhi LG, the appointment was made as the CM office failed to respond to Governor’s advice for 36 hours. “The office of the Chief Secretary cannot be left inordinately vacant,” the statement released by LG office read.

The opposition parties too joined the issue criticising Arvind Kejriwal government and his style of functioning with this fresh round of confrontation.

“This government doesn’t believe in the principal of democracy, earlier they came out with gag order against media and now they are doing with the bureaucracy,” Congress leader Haroon Yusuf said.

“If there is any charge against an officer you must inquire and why are they (Delhi government) trying to blackmail her (Gamlin) like this. They were trying to harass her and this kind of tactics they have done with another IAS officer,” Haroon added taking swipe at the AAP government.

While BJP’s Nalin Kohli slammed CM Kejriwal saying, “Mr Kejriwal and his colleagues need to understand that there is a constitutional mandate by which a government runs”.